The theme of Magic Maze is that the players are adventurers short on cash, and carrying off a raid in a shopping mall – the maze – in order to gather adventuring equipment. For some reason, they need to steal everything at exactly the same time, before carrying out a getaway.
All of which is to say Magic Maze makes a rather far-fetched story. But the game itself is a hoot.
The maze is made up of a series of tiles. One starts face-up with the four adventurers on it, and the others will be laid out during play – as they explore. All the players work co-operatively in order to pull off this heist, but no one player controls one adventurer. Instead, everyone has one or two things they can do with every adventurer – they will be able to move them as far as they like in one direction, and do one other thing: explore, travel up or down escalators, or warp: this shopping mall has the ability to whisk you from one warp spot to a matching one elsewhere.
All the adventurers need to reach their ‘steal’ spot, and once everyone is in place simultaneously, the theft occurs. Now everyone makes a dash for the exits (and because the alarms have gone off, they no longer have the ability to warp).
So basically you’re manoeuvring everyone into position, then out again. But there are two catches: one is that you’re working against the clock, with only three minutes of sand in the timer. You can flip the timer over though, by planting an adventurer into a timer spot in the maze – but these are limited. The other catch is that you are mostly working in silence! Only when the timer is flipped is anyone allowed to speak; and once a first action has been taken (after a hurried discussion of plans) silence must resume. The game comes with a Do Something piece you can place in front of someone to prompt them, but you cannot speak, or point at the board…
We’ve had a blast with this, although I think it’s worth playing your first game breaking the ‘silence’ rule just to get your head around things. Then we cheated by grunting and pointing. Then we finally played properly – it was great fun; but definitely the kind of fun that won’t suit a calmer, more cerebral gamer who wants a gentle experience. Magic Maze is far from that, but it’s a really interesting design and one the kids ask to play regularly.
None from the other players, although it's not a game to be played with people who like to apportion blame.
None - the game is played simultaneously, with no turns.
Simple rules, but the pressure comes in applying them.
As well as the random distribution of tiles in the basic game, there are extra tiles and challenges to give variation in repeated play.